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“All that is gold does not glitter”

 Being hand woven right now is the ‘Aulana Midas Rug’ created with Aulana technology. All the colours are created using Noble Bond’s remarkable invention that captures the science of pure gold to create colours in pure New Zealand wool.

midas rug aulana

The Midas rug is meticulously hand woven by crafts people at Obeetee

The Midas rug is coloured with pure gold but don’t expect it to shine yellow gold.

Aulana  uses colloidal dispersions of gold within the pores of the wool fibres to generate a boutique range of colours resulting from the localised surface plasmon resonance interaction of light with the surface electrons of the colloidal gold particles. A similar approach was used in early glass making for Gothic Cathedrals, where gold was dispersed as a colloid in the glass matrix to generate red-purple colours. The Aulana technology captures and extends this approach to currently provide a range of colours in shades of pink, mauve, grey and blue.

Wools of New Zealand and Noble Bond Ltd, and our global partners, SoFarSoNear, Grentex, and Obeetee have joined hands to create the Midas rug which will be available to view, by appointment only, at SoFarSoNear’s London showroom in Grosvenor Place.

More information on the Aulana website

The design is by SoFarSoNear and in its final form will represent three circular pieces with the third being a tear drop as below.  This ‘ear ring’ design has been created to illustrate the precious nature of this one-of-a kind remarkable piece.

the midas rug in laneve wool

Rendering of the Midas Rug

Scarcity

Special, Intelligent, Precious and Scarce.

This week I have been visiting high-end fabric producers and retailers to market-screen some new textile technologies. What impresses me most about the scientists we are working with is their commitment to the customer experience. These are award winning scientists in the fields of nanotechnology, chemistry and physics who have created world 1st applications, but what is special is that they are taking the time to visit the market, talk to real people and then go back to refine the science so it enhances the customers experience.

The technology is using nano sized particles of noble metals (silver and gold) to either bend light to create colour or simply to create antimicrobial textiles. I have written about this before in my post The Ultimate Purple Sheep. This blog entry is not about the product so much as it is about how to market the product.

The market is excited about the idea of textiles coloured with pure gold. We were shown a suit at one London retailer that sold for £75,000. But our technology was seen as a cut about that for both its cleverness and because it was applied to pure New Zealand wool.

A number of companies have registered interest so now we have the nice problem of choosing our customers. We could make the product cheaper, dumb it down so it appeals to a wider market, and play a volume game. Or we can keep the supply limited, work with just a few carefully selected partners and keep the product desirable, intelligent and scarce.

This is a simple supply and demand scenario, by limiting the supply and offering an element of exclusivity we justify a higher price. By creating a brand “Aulana”, derived from AU for gold and Lana for wool, and by setting strict brand specifications on product association and design we grow the appeal of the product and the appeal of the brands we cooperate with.

We are planning not to sell very much. Scarcity is part of the product appeal and a deliberate marketing strategy. Too many companies are trying to appeal to a mass audience, make a the product cheaper with less integrity and then they wonder why the customer has a rubbish experience and the product collects dust on a retail shelf.

Make it special; keep it precious, scarcity is a powerful tool.

Antimicrobial wool using nanotechnology

The Ultimate Purple Sheep

Textiles Coloured with Pure Gold

This is probably the 1st time you will read the word “Aulana”, but remember the name because this is truly a remarkable new innovation for wool textiles.

The name Aulana is derived from Au – the symbol for gold and Lana – latin for wool.

It is the ability to colour wool garments, textiles, carpets etc, by using particles of real gold. Deep rich colour can be created without dyestuff. The colour is made by bending light itself.

The process, known as Surface Plasmon Resonance sounds complicated, but it has actually been happening for centuries. The red glass in gothic cathedrals was coloured by putting gold into the molten glass; it just took a few genius to figure out why this happened. It was Brit Michael Faraday who figured that out, but it took another century for someone to find a way to use this effect for textiles.

Professor Jim Johnston and Dr Kirsten Lucas, both of Victoria University in Wellington New Zealand, and now the proud owners of Noble Bond Ltd, worked out that they could change the colour by altering the gold particles at a nano-scale, and then they figured out how to make these particles stick permanently to wool. We say Permanent but the effect could wear off after 10 thousand years or so. The colour can be changed to a boutique range, notably shades of pink, mauve, regal purple, blue and grey. Aulana contains only pure wool and pure gold, no dyes are required!

AuLana has become a way to innovatively link the high value and prestige of gold with high quality merino and strong wool for high value fashion apparel and luxury textiles and carpets.

As an extra bonus the textiles will also be completely anti-microbial and have enhanced conductivity. Not only will you be wearing real gold, you won’t smell and you won’t get static shocks.

Wools of New Zealand is bridging the gap between the science and the market. Part of my job over the last few years has been to foster this innovation and help steer it into real life products. This means engaging with luxury brands and making the science work for the market. The success of Aulana won’t be luck, clever science combined with smart marketing will guarantee success.

By working with Innovation focused the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence, in Yorkshire, UK, we have been able to take this technology from a laboratory and into rapid prototyping, and market analyses. Suiting fabric has been woven by the centre, which will also use its vast textile connections to link Aulana with key fashion labels.

A suit featuring Aulana

The key market for this product is the high-end, luxury apparel market, particularly in the BRIC countries and Arab region. The incorporation of coloured gold provides a distinctive high quality point of difference and is expected to add significant value and a unique selling point to the high quality worsted manufactured in Yorkshire. Additionally, it is a good opportunity to demonstrate the use of the Yorkshire Signature DNA to provide the proof of provenance and authenticity which is increasingly valued in these growing markets.

We are also working with interior textiles companies and carpet manufactuers on a range of product options.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the purple sheep, A purple sheep is a metaphor for something worth remarking about. Purple sheep get noticed as they stand out from the flock. Aulana is just getting started but it is going to get noticed.

And if you wonder why an artist, textile designer and innovator wears a pinstripe suit, its because the stripe in the suit is coloured with Aulana Pure Gold.